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The Phantom Father (2011)
"Tatal fantoma" (original title)

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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 354 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 14 critic

American professor Robert Traum embarks on an adventurous and amusing journey through Bucovina to find Sami the projectionist, the only person alive that can tell him anything about his ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Robert Traum
Barry Gifford ...
Mihaela Sirbu ...
Valer Delakeza ...
Mihai Constantin ...
Mayor Codrescu
Mimi Branescu ...
Victor Rebengiuc ...
Uncle Petre
Mariana Mihut ...
Aunt Florica
Iosif Pastina ...
small Robert
Nicodim Ungureanu ...
Hotel Receptionist
Vitalie Bantas ...
Marcel Cobzariu ...
Vladimir (as Marcello Cobzariu)
Mirela Oprisor ...
Woman from Italy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Andrei Araditz ...
Codrescu Sr.
Adriana Butoi ...
Sara Traum


American professor Robert Traum embarks on an adventurous and amusing journey through Bucovina to find Sami the projectionist, the only person alive that can tell him anything about his Romanian Jewish descent. His symbolic journey is filled with danger, the unknown and the surreal, but finally rewarded with a double love: on the one hand he finds romantic love, on the other the passion for old cinema, nomad, popular, naive and generous. Written by Lucian Georgescu

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A different kind of New Romanian Film See more »


Drama | Romance



Official Sites:




Release Date:

2 March 2012 (Romania)  »

Also Known As:

Duch ojca  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


The closing scene supposedly takes place in the city of Siret, but filming was done in Braila, hundreds of kilometers to the south, where the crew were able to find an 80 year old cinema with its original façade intact. See more »


Sami: I still believe in happy endings and I dream of the day when you will show up and tell me "I'm Robert Traum". What a beautiful dream!
See more »


Features Pacat (1924) See more »

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User Reviews

An outrage to one's aesthetic sense and a great impunity towards the Romanians
4 March 2012 | by (Romania) – See all my reviews

After reading the two precedent reviews on IMDb and knowing the excellent quality of the latest Romanian cinema wave, we went to this movie with pretty high expectations.

What we saw was, instead, the most grotesque AND boring (quite rare combination) script I could imagine. I'll try to make a summary of what we felt as being deeply wrong.

The plot:

  • although a thin idea was recognizable, almost 90 pct of the movie is

spent on a strange kind of a introduction, with long silences, melancholic faces and constant repetition of some words like "beautiful", "interesing", "really?". There are some incredibly beautiful movies where silence is an art. Kim Ki Duk's films are jewels in this respect. But not any silence is art. Not any zero is a void...

  • this introduction represented mainly a confusing journey in the

Romanian countryside, presumably looking for one of the characters - same barren hills, several hotel rooms, a lot of gray and long silences

  • the conflict appears towards the middle of the movie and is solved in

the last 15 minutes, in a whirlwind of illogic and confusing actions

  • the very thread is implausible. One of the main characters, a lady

director of the county archives , leaves everything in the office and hurries to accompany the American guy looking for information about his family. She goes stray for several days driving the man in the countryside, mostly gloomy and with a strange attitude, called incessantly on the phone by her boyfriend. We are speaking here about middle age (and above) persons. In the end, still gloomy and with attitude, she has an affair with the American guy

  • at a certain moment, someone decided that some surreal touch would be

a success, hence some grotesque dreams ans some almost funny in their lack of ...well, everything..foggy scenes with Ucrainean gangsters

  • the finale reaches the paroxysm -the lady visits her parents

somewhere in the countryside. She introduces the American boyfriend. Her mother, even more sour than herself (for the Romanian connoisseurs
  • the mother is played by Mariana Mihut, every single tone and gesture

a replica of her role made in "Ingropati-ma pe dupa plinta") keeps reproaching the guy corrupting her "girl", presuming he does not intend to marry the lady. After a long and difficult discussion her parents let them go with their blessing in a vintage motorcycle, along with a goose (!), followed by a bunch of running kids appeared out of the blue at the moment of their departure.

Along with already worn out clichés (wolfs are screaming in the night - we are in Transilvanya, right?), the script is full of nondescript allegations. I deeply understand that artistic endeavors often require significant alterations of the real world. Still, such a grotesque distortion we found as thoroughly pointless, vicious even.. Even the common sense was crushed in such a wave of gross innuendos and allegations. There are, of course, plenty of things one can laugh or criticize in Romania, but such almost obscenities are not even a caricature of Romania. Just a gross, incredible, pointless waste of time...

As a Romanian living in Romania and pretty connected to what's happening around us, I did perceive them as simply injurious. Some of them: in Romania the forests have been cut out and nowadays people do not have wood any more. Not even for their coffins. Hence, they are buried in plastic bags. At one point, it is mentioned a situation when middle class people have fun along with friends because one of their little kids is Smoking (!). When the main character inquires a local about good hotels in Suceava, a Romanian town, he is answered that there are no such things in Suceava. Instead, he is left alone to find himself a place to stay. He somehow gets to a place with a slimy guy behind a glass wall protecting the reception. Where on earth did the director find something like that in Romania? Was that in his studio? We are traveling a lot around the country, we have been to Suceava a number of times. Never seen something like that... There are actually 2 hotels in the film with the same creepy kind of reception desk.

Well, these latest details may seem mundane. They only add to the general lack of artistic feeling, even common sense, to the frustration for the waste of time.

All in all, a huge disappointment. Totally different from so many wonderful new Romanian films of the young generation...

18 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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